2011’s New Year’s Resolutions – 7 UPS!


There is a rather well known author and minister, Rev. Walter Schoedel, director of church relations for Lutheran Senior Services of Missouri and Illinois, who tells us as people of faith, we need to take a different approach. The author calls it, the 7-UP approach. The author says the 7UP is the answer to our shortcomings. He suggests that you need to make your listing of resolutions, but add Seven new ones to your list. Those 7 form the most important,…and in the end, allow you to achieve the remainder. They form the approach that fosters our faith, and allows us to move mountains in our life.

For this post, I have stolen that listing along with some of his commentary, and given it a great deal of thought,…and from his listing I have come up with seven that I feel are the ones that as people of faith we need to write down on the first of each year. Again, this listing owes its very existence to Walter Schoedel, and these are certainly NOT original thoughts of my own ownership:

The first on our listing of the Seven Ups is our need to WAKE UP—

We need to make it our resolution, begin the day with the Lord. It is His day. Rejoice in it. Celebrate it. Ask yourself what am I going to do that best puts my faith and my confidence of God, and all the blessings he has laid before me,…on its fullest display. I wake up each morning, with the same questions on my mind; Why do I have to get out of bed? Why do I have such a stupid job? Why,…Why… Why? How different would our lives be, if at 7:00am on Monday morning, you put your feet on the floor, and instead of asking Why…You said Good Morning God. Today, Let me live for you.

Number two is STAND-UP–Take a stand for what you believe.

Be a person who knows what you believe, and make your voice heard. We have said countless times, if we don’t speak the only voice they will hear are the voices that are typically the most wrong. What would this community be if we stood up to all the garbage and the misguided priorities around us? What would our voice bring to the discussion? Who knows if we would be heard or listened too, but at least we are not shortchanging our faith, ourselves, or our neighbors through our silence.

And standing up, has to do not only with the big issues of our day,…like politics and culture… But it also has to do with our common and everyday discussions… The next time youre in a conversation with a friend or coworker or a neighbor, and they cross your line, speak up. Don’t sell your faith short. When they come and talk to you about the crisis and the troubles of their life, help them to see your answer.

Third, LOOK-UP–Open your eyes to the Lord.

All of nature speaks to the glory, wonder, and truth of God,….but are we so busy that we pass it by without ever noticing? Take the time to enjoy the blessings that are here, and all around us, rather than dreaming of the things and the wants that you believe will make you happy. Wrap your arms around the blessings before us,…and don’t let go.

Fourth, REACH-UP–Spend time in prayer with your needs, wants, confessions, and thanksgivings to the Lord.

We need to be people who give it all to the Lord. Someday, we will each realize that without God, we are less than whole, and the moment that we have to take all our dreams, wants, fears and doubts and hand them off to him, in full trust, is the moment that we are freed. If you want to experience the freedom of a whole life, it means shedding the shackles. It means trusting in God for comfort and help. It means turning to him for hope. Its about saying, once and for all, that you can not go it alone. Our faith says, we experience freedom when we tie ourselves to him.

Number five is for us to LIFT-UP! We need to be those who are available to help those in need–serving, supporting, and sharing.

We need to give even more of ourselves, of what we have and of who we are, if we want to see the world outside these doors heal, and move towards that wholeness.

There is a nonprofit group out of a Boston inner city church. As one of their ministries, they led a toll free help line for recovery addicts. For years they ran a 1-800 number, where those who were battling drugs, could call for not only encouragement in their battles but for prayer. One night during a meeting with the committee that ran the group, someone suggested that they should man the phones more than the limited hours they were currently providing.

Fearing what this would mean to already taxed and busy schedules, a debate ensued. After about 45 minutes of going back and forth, an individual asked what he thought to be a rhetorical question; “If we don’t answer their call, who will” Without thinking, an older member gave the answer: “If we wont answer the call the drugs will.” After a few minutes of silence, a motion was made to push extending the hours of service. For the last ten years, the phones have been answered by a live person, without stop, 24 hours a day.

“If we wont answer their call, who will? Its up to us to lift them up.

Number 6 is a little more abrupt. Number Six is to SHUT-UP—

Too much of the damage to our lives, and to those around us, come when we don’t keep our mouth shut…and nowhere is that more evident than in the church. So many of us come to the church week in and week out and celebrate its promise; the promise that there is a perfect place for imperfect people. Yet, in an instant, we become all about telling the rest of the world what they do wrong.

• We cant have her in our congregation, don’t you see how she lives?

• Did you see what that lady wore today?

• Can you believe so and so did that?

I don’t care how many PHDs, MDs, or PDQ’s you have behind your name, none of us have all the answers, yet that doesn’t stop us from pretending we do. The saddest part of this reality? Most of the people, who are searching, don’t want all the answers… They want something else.

A chaplain I know, once provided me with the single best piece of advice for dealing with families who are grieving or have had their hearts broken. I think of it each time I get one of those heartbreaking phone calls or make a visit. The advice was simple: Show up, be present, and allow your heart to break. There is nothing more to say and no magic formula to make the hurt go away. There is nothing more that you are supposed to do. There is nothing better you can give.

Lastly, number 7…. SHOW UP

Can you imagine what this world would look like if the billions of people who count themselves among the faithful….Would just show up, be present, and allow their hearts to break? What would this world look like if we just showed up, and listened? What if we stopped trying to fix all the world’s ills, and instead just tried to make a difference?

I am sure that by now many of you heard the Ted Williams story that has hit the news over the past few weeks.

This is not the Ted Williams of Red Sox fame, but rather a homeless man who lived on the street of Columbus Ohio. Do to a drug problem which he managed to beat, he lost everything. For the past few years he has been living on the street and panhandling for food. If you drove through Columbus you would have seen him with a cardboard sign asking for help. It turns out that this man has a unique gift; his voice. You look at him, and he looks just like what you would expect of an urban homeless man.

Yet when he talks, you hear an incredibly beautiful, smooth and almost musical voice. When you hear it you can imagine that the voice is his, and not Don Pardo, or some other famous voice over pro. This past week he has been offered jobs with MSNBC and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The video of him speaking has gone viral across the internet, and people are calling it the most inspirational story in years. I say something else. I say the story of Ted Williams isn’t the inspirational part. I

t’s the story of Doral Chenneworth III. Doral is a 45 year old father and member of the 40 member New Life United Methodist Church in downtown Columbus. Doral drove by that man everyday. Somedays he gave him a few dollars, other times he kept driving by. A few weeks ago, as Doral was heading to work, something told him, he couldn’t just drive by.

When he saw him, he scanned his car for change and realized that he had nothing to give. Yet, he still didn’t want to pass on by. So he did the only thing he could. He stopped and he offered his handshake. They talked, and Doral heard the gift. He came by the next day with a video camera. Doral stopped, showed up, was present, and allowed his heart to be broken,…and for Ted Williams…it saved his life.

 That man came from a church like this.

That man was an everyday joe like you or I,…but he stopped. He could have been any one of us.

We need to stop. We need to show up, be present, and allow our hearts to break.

Maybe, just maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s my answer to the fight between the man I am, and the person I want to be.

I can make my listing of my new year’s resolutions…. Another 1000 miles,…perfect chompers…. 20 lbs shed…. All these things…. They can be my game plan for 2011. But I better be sure that this year is different….

In 2011, I want to WAKE UP . 

In 2011, I want to STAND UP.  

In 2011, I want to LOOK UP

In 2011, I want to REACH UP.   

In 2011, I want to LIFT UP . 

In 2011, I want to SHUT UP .

In 2011, I want to…. No,…. I WILL SHOW UP.

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